Tag Archives: world

The Otherworldly Voice of Soeur Marie Keyrouz

July 09, 2015

Soeur Marie Keyrouz
Soeur Marie Keyrouz

You may remember Nuns Who Rock. I featured the big 1963 hit “Dominique,” sung by Soeur Sourire or ‘The Singing Nun,’ and then the Sicilian nun-rocker, Sister Cristina Scuccia.

Now I’d like to spotlight a nun of another order: Soeur (or Sister) Marie Keyrouz, who has recorded numerous albums over the years with her Ensemble de la Paix (Ensemble of Peace). Based now in Paris, she has yet to appear in Los Angeles, and I don’t know that she’s ever performed in the U.S. I tried to bring her group to Los Angeles back when I worked for the L.A. Philharmonic, thinking that the Walt Disney Concert Hall would be an ideal venue, but unfortunately, the cost of doing so was prohibitive.

Cantiques de l’Orient, 1996.
Cantiques de l’Orient, 1996.

Soeur Marie Keyrouz was born in 1963 in Deir el Ahmar, Lebanon. She relocated to Paris and received her doctorate from the Sorbonne in both musicology and anthropology. She belongs to the Congrégation des Soeurs Basiliennes Chouerites and is president of the National Institute of Sacred Music in Paris.

She sings hymns from the Lebanese Maronite Christian church, as well as sacred songs and chants from the Greek, Syriac, and Arabic liturgies. In her crystal clear soprano voice, Soeur Marie Keyrouz embellishes her song with exhortatory ululations and other Arabic touches. I find her music to be utterly mesmerizing, even levitational. The term, ‘otherworldly,’ would not be overstating it.

Start with Soeur Marie Keyrouz’s glorious Cantiques de l’Orient.

Hers is a version of “Ave Maria” unlike any you’ve ever heard before.

toms

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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10 Fast Facts on Mauritania

August 7th, 2014

mauritania

Recently, I saw a performance by the Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali, who plays the 9-string harp, the ardin (reserved only for women), and her talented musicians at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The Skirball hosts free summer concerts bringing in international artists and performers to give us Angelenos a taste of the musical flavors from around the world. Noura’s melodic voice and music, a blend of Berber, Afro-pop, and desert blues had everyone on their feet dancing; transporting us to a desert oasis thousands of miles away.

YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HLfWoZhC7s

Influenced by its Moorish past, Mauritania has a rich and thriving music culture (as evidenced by the performers I saw at the Skirball).

In terms of geography, Mauritania (three times the size of Arizona) is situated in northwest Africa with about 350 mi (592 km) of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. In the north, it is bordered by Morocco and on the east by Algeria and Mali, and Senegal on the south. The country is 70% desert and growing because of ongoing droughts, with the exception of the fertile Senegal River valley in the south and grazing land in the north.

maur_house
Image source: Steve McCurry’s Blog

The history of Mauritania dates back to the 3rd century AD. The original settlers of Mauritania were the Bafours people. Berber tribes began migrating to the region between the 3rd and 7th century AD removing all traces of the Bafours people. The Mauritanian Thirty-Year War occurred between 1644 and 1647 when the Beber fought against the Beni Hassan tribes and Maqil Arab invaders.

Mauritania was first explored by the Portuguese in the 15th century, but by the 19th century the French had gained control and became one of the colonies that constituted French West Africa. In 1946, it was named a French overseas territory.

Now, here are some fast facts on Mauritania:

1. Mauritania gained its independence from France on Nov. 28, 1960, and was admitted to the United Nations in 1961. (Having once been a French colony, Mauritannia’s education system has been heavily influenced by the francophone system which is still prevalent today even after its independence.)

2. The capital of Mauritania is Nouakchott, which means “place of the winds.” It was designated as the country’s capital only in 1960 and is therefore one of the world’s newest capitals.

Nouakchott,
Nouakchott, capital of Mauritannia

3. Mauritania is one of the last countries to abolish slavery. It passed a law in 1981 to abolish slavery. Yet, according to 2003 estimates, despite the legislation against slavery, there still exists around 90,000 slaves in Mauritania.

slavery
Image source: http://borgenproject.org/modern-day-slavery-mauritania/

4. Majority of Mauritanians are devout Moslems and belong to the Sunni sect.

5. Arabic is the official and national language. Other languages spoken include: Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French, Hassaniya (a variety of Arabic).

moslem_men

6. If you look at Mauritania from space, you can see a clear bull’s-eye-like image called “The Eye of Africa.” It is a Richat structure with a diameter of about 30 miles and believed to be the result of the simultaneous lifting of the underlying geology. It is, nevertheless, quite striking.

Richat

7. With about 40% of its population still below the poverty line, Mauritania depends heavily on iron ore exports, fishing and off shore oil wells for its economic progress. In addition to ion ore, Mauritania’s other natural resources include gold, gypsum, phosphate, diamonds, copper and oil.

8. Mauritania’s extensive coastline offers excellent opportunities for those who wish to explore the beach, surf, swim or fish in the sea.

maur_beach

9. France’s colonial influence is apparent in Mauritania’s education system that follows the francophone system. Primary school covers 6 years and begins at age six, followed by 7 years of secondary education which leads to the Secondary Education Diploma “Diplome du Baccalauréat de l’Enseignement du Secondaire” (BAC),

10. Mauritania’s University of Nouakchott offers two-year Diploma programs (“Diplome d’Etudes Universitaires Géneralés” also called “DEUG”) followed by two additional years for the “Maitrise.” There are also seven specialized institutions of higher education

Bonus fact:
11. Mauritania’s Bay of Nouadhibou, hides one of the biggest ships cemeteries in the world. There are more than 300 wrecks from all nations beached permanently on its shores. (For more images of shipwrecks on Mauritania’s shores click here: http://www.fogonazos.es/2006/11/shipwrecks-on-coast-of-mauritania.html)

maur_shipwreck

Sources:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13881985
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mr.html
http://www.wfp.org/countries/mauritania

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
acei@acei-global.org

ACEI
http://www.acei-global.org

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Filed under Education, History, Human Interest, Politics, Travel

Keepin’ It Eclectic and Worldwide!

July 18, 2013

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This week’s Rhythm Planet features a wide variety of new music from around the world in many different styles.  We feature some Brazilian classics from the band Azymuth and French bossa novista Nicola Conte’s new collection Viagem 5, some cool vibes to beat the heat with Joe Locke and Milt Jackson; we debut new albums from France’s Deep Forest, New Zealand’s Fat Freddy’s Drop, Malian modal blues from Samba Toure.  We remember the great R&B singer Bobby “Blue Bland”, who passed away recently, and there’s modern sufi music from The Shah Hussein Project, a mystery track from the German band Dirtmusic with a song inspired by Werner Herzog’s amazing movie Fitzcarraldo.  We wrap things up in a quieter mode with gorgeous new albums on the prestige label ECM, renowned for its pristine sound, production values, and acoustic music. These final four ECM albums are by saxophone virtuoso Chris Potter (warning: it’s jazz not for the feint of heart), German jazz pianist Julia Hulsmann gives a jazz treatment to a Manuel de Falla classic, “Nana” and finally two beautiful albums from Swiss singer Susanne Abbuehl and veteran English singer June Tabor, who makes her ECM debut.

Despite the moribund state of the music industry, it’s amazing how many good records are being produced these days, and many of the albums featured here might well go under the radar. That would be a pity, so I’m doing my small bit to get the music heard.  You may discover some you really like.

 

Rhythm Planet Playlist: 7/5/13

  1. Azymuth | Meu Mengo | Remixes & Originals | Far Out
  2. Neyde Fraga | Onda Quebrando | Nicola Conte Presents Viagem 5 | Far Out Recordings
  3. Joe Locke | Bittersweet | Lay Down My Heart | Motema Music
  4. Milt Jackson | The Cylinder | Ballad Artistry Of Milt Jackson | Collectables
  5. Deep Forest | Atali Wowo | Deep Africa | Big 3 Records
  6. Samba Toure | Be Ki Don | Albala | Glitter Beat
  7. Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland | Farther Up The Road | The Anthology| Duke/Peacock
  8. Fat Freddy’s Drop | Silver And Gold | Blackbird | Fat Freddy’s Drop
  9. Shahram Shabpareh | Leila | Shahram | Secret Stash Records
  10. The Shah Hussein Project | Saiyyon Assi | The Shah Hussein Project Vol. 1 | The Active
  11. Dirtmusic | Fitzcarraldo | Troubles | Glitter Beat
  12. Chris Potter | Wayfinder | The Sirens | ECM Records
  13. Julia Hulsmann Quartet | Nana | In Full View | ECM Records
  14. Susanne Abbuehl | My River Runs To You | The Gift | ECM Records
  15. June Tabor | Near But Far Away | Quercus | ECM Records

 

 

 

“Please join me online and listen to my music show “Rhythm Planet” at http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/cl. Thanks!”

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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